Thursday, 15 November 2018

15th November 2018 Cabinet agreement

The sun is glinting on buildings down the valley. Sir Keir Starmer has just been roasted from about 0735am by Nick on R4. Labour have condemned the May deal and Nick Robinson had decided to show Sir Keir how close the deal was to Labour's stated position. That well shows the complexities immediately in prospect. I was never a fan of 2016 and in the end did not vote. From about the period of June I have said May's tack was the only show on the road. That remains the case. Behind all the froth, last night Newsnight had experts who had seen the deal, explaining why it made some sense. The Referendum debate back in 2016 showed what a hopeless instrument it was for informed debate, the same sort of process is at work now. There will be immense heat over Northern Ireland for an aspect of the agreement which is not even intended to happen. Some Brexiteers will long and work for no deal. I have never supported no deal. How that can be a happy outcome I find unfathomable. My hunch is that if you were going to have a Brexit, Mrs May's result was the likely one. It preserves jobs, gives us back some control and money, and isolates us from having influence in Europe. That is a realistic assessment. Allowing all that, many might feel we were far better off staying where we are? What happens next? In some ways May got Cabinet backing, some form of words from a hugely divided Cabinet and party. But now it is Parliament. That really does have Maths to suggest it is much more challenging. If Labour do what we are told Corbyn will tell them to do, it is lost. However Corbyn has always supported May and Brexit in key votes. Assuming the deal is not supported by Parliament, all bets are off. But what I lament is that an issue that ought never to have been an issue has been hugely divisive to the United Kingdom for years now and it ain't going away. I feel she will not win in Parliament because individuals with their own agendas will not embrace the logic of May's deal. It is what you get if you vote for Brexit, a loony position. It makes the best of a bad job. But achieving a majority in Parliament from a minority party to make the best of a bad job would seem a tall order. We go forward into the unknown buoyed up largely for today by the prospect of some sunshine.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Justine Greening's call.

It would appear even Parliament after last night is recognising a stalemate. There is Justine Greening calling for another referendum and various folks talking about crisis etc etc. What has changed? For over two years the UK has been unable to decide anything credible so what is different now? If I belonged to the ERG I would be delighted by recent events. Mrs May has not got her way post Chequers and it seems unlikely Brussels will agree to the proposal. The chances of us crashing out of the EU increase steadily and for all hard Brexiteers this must be the best solution forcing us to be independent. Yet business does not seem comfortable with this, the usual Tory partners. I rather think Mrs May's scheme is the only practical route to achieve a Brexit. What about this second referendum then? I am not calling for one. We live in a Parliamentary representative democracy. I did not have a lot of faith in the 2016 one because as was abundantly clear people could not on the information given know what they were voting about. Many thought it was about sending immigrants home the next day. So what would make another referendum better? I don't know. And why would it matter? Are we not leaving on March 19th next period? No, I think Parliamentarians have to knuckle down and sort it out. National interest comes before party and it a certain party is broken by it, so be it. And if there was another referendum how would I vote? Probably Remain because I would feel Leave has had plenty of time to show how to Brexit properly and beneficially and it has not done that. But what would voting Remain mean? Exactly where we were? Immigration was one of the strongest planks Leave had (although I note the numbers are still very high but it is now more rest of the world and less from the neighbours). Maybe we would be pressed to join Schengen or the Euro and regardless of what I think, the Brits will not buy those for a while yet. Incidentally having just come back from France I cannot work out why food (including French food) is so clearly cheaper in the UK than in France.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Boris' speech

Guess where I listened to R4 reporting Boris' speech this afternoon. Somewhere on the A75 near Dumfries. It was at the level of a second rate Oxford Union address. It did not deal with the questions of the moment. For months now everyone from business to the EU have pressed us (or the Tory government) "tell us what you want and how it will work?". Square the circle open freely moving borders including Ireland and whether leaving the EU means leaving the Custom's Union and the Common Market. Boris had no answers just Boris woffle. More speeches promised this week but do we really think any of them will have answers? I am not a remainer or a leaver. I am not Matthew Paris lying awake at night smarting from defeat. If you can, make Brexit work to our financial advantage; and if you can't, fess up to the nation over how ill led we have been. I say this with feeling because I spent the day in one of Europe's greatest strategic corridors. The Tyne Solway Gap aka as Hadrian's Wall aka the A69/75 Euroroute from the North Sea Ports to Ireland. And what is it like? You grind along surrounded by lorries from Italy, MacBurney's from Ballymena, who ever knows who from Donegal. You all get fouled up in the new roundabout at Dumfries Hospital. And so on and so forth. It is a dreadful route. Relatively speaking the Stanegate was more remarkable as was General Wade's Military Road from Newcastle to Portpatrick (a lot of which is the Euroroute but not all). What is the best reason for leaving the EU? Because we are not up to it. We have never been good at taking strategic benefit from it. Unlike the Irish, we don't how to get the EU to electrify derelict canal locks in the middle of nowhere. We muddle along because we love British amateurism. 18 months of planning for Brexit have demonstrated that. We genuinely have no idea from the Cabinet downwards how to deliver Brexit. And Boris did not enlighten. The next step..................................

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Corbyn's friendship with May

If you call for staying in the Customs Union you should be blasted!!!! That is what the Daily Express and the Labour Party agree over. Not for the first time I am left saying Corbyn is May's best friend (a critic says so in the link). It would never surprise me to discover Corbyn is encouraged by May. "Hear, you have a job for life so long as you stay in "opposition" and I will help you". Opposition is about just that, so all the other opposition parties suggest a tactic Corbyn should welcome and he says No. The British Public by a very thin margin voted to leave the EU. Nothing was said on the paper about Customs Union, Common Market, although many people had their opinions. There is ample evidence many thought it was an exercise to get rid of Cameron and the government. That went off half cock. So 2018 starts with the same meaningless record. And this is why I say it is meaningless. Because although Corbyn and the Tory Right are both united in wanting as little to do with the EU as possible, they do want this for very different reasons. One wants the Freedom to build the Socialist Workers Utopia (with the railways as an example to us all), the other wants a Hard Right fantasy. One of those is going to be disappointed. One is a small number of people and a lot of money. The other is a lot of people and not much idea about money. And in between are most of us! Like the commuters trying to get to work this week (where I am not). Stuffed by intransigence, loud mouths and dogmatists. Along come some politicians who want to break through that and Corbyn says no, even though most of his MPs think Remain a good idea. Finally who realises the inception of Concorde helped fuel British distrust of Europe. I have chapter and verse for that.  See .

Sunday, 7 January 2018

First Saturday of 2018

The first Saturday of 2018. By a thin majority the nation voted to say goodbye to our largest trading partners and 27 of our neighbours. 18 months after that vote and no-one REALLY knows how to do it. We are governed by a political party with just about 100,000 members? They are propped up by 10 Ulster MPs from the party and religious presuppostions of Ian Paisley. The most effective opposition to government comes from the SNP and its leader. Small wonder one faces 2018 in a spirit of uncertainty. If you had asked me to believe this would happen from the perspective of 1998 I would have said "Rowlocks". And above all, I don't get it, I don't understand how this has happened. And I don't know if the answer is Facebook.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Rail fares go up 2nd January 2018

Some of you will have just heard R4 with two protagonists on rail fares. Gents each from the Rail Delivery Group (who knows what that does?) and the Shadow Transport Secretary from Labour. Chris Grayling could not be borrowed to explain anything. The two who did speak were pathetic and this was based on their ignorance. The one point I heard which I think was a score was the stress on how foreign state railways benefit. It is a racket. The ignorance was for instance displayed by no-one mentioning the REPEATED failure of rail franchises. And added to it the CONSTANT changes of policy by Government. Tell me about Anglia Railways and Great Western (forgetting that serial offender East Coast) to understand this. Labour NEED to positively explain how they can do better. The guy did not. They need to say that the rail industry can only be efficient if vertically integrated and that the BR of 1993 was the most successful railway in Western Europe. All Labour needs to do is arm itself with the facts and figures of 1993 and say we will recreate British Railways as configured not for 1948 and Attlee but for 1993.